March Artist Spotlight: Melissa Knight

March Artist Spotlight: Melissa Knight

How did you start doing art and what are you working on these days?

I found my way to batik through poetry. I was invited to display one of my poems at a group art exhibition and was looking for a creative way to display my poem. Someone suggested creating a batik banner. I had no idea what batik was, so I set out to explore what it was and I instantly fell in love! I have been making batik ever since (for over 20 years now)! I began making collage through design. On one occasion, I had made a large design and the design wasn’t very strong. However, I saw potential in this beautifully bright and colorful fabric and I began making collage. I found that collage suited my style which was pretty rudimentary to begin with, but has developed over the years and I love that the patterns that develop naturally in the wax/dye process often guide the designs I create! This quote from Georgia O’Keefe really resonates with me, “I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way.”
In the last couple of years, I have been focusing much of my energy on developing community art projects. I enjoy connecting with communities, connecting communities with artists, and artists with communities!  My first community project was called “Interwoven” and was held at Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center. We wove with my batik fabric and we also tried a number of weaving techniques using different fabrics and wool. I am currently collaborating and working with mosaic artist Ryah Christensen on a community mosaic project at Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center (March & April). This project engages the community by offering a series of workshops where participants come together to design and create a community “quilt” mosaic artwork. Workshops include designing and creating tiles for the community quilt. Ryah will take the tiles made by the community and create a large mosaic artwork that will be installed at the entrance of Rosewood-Zaragosa Neighborhood Center. The mosaic project is created by the community, for the community.

How does reuse play a part in your art?

For all of the projects that I work on, I begin by visiting Austin Creative Reuse! For Interwoven, I purchased a lot of my supplies at ACR including frames, embroidery hoops, wool and fabric. For the mosaic project, our first workshop is a design workshop and we were able to find what we needed at ACR including drawing supplies, design books and templates. For the last 3 years I have created an interactive art installation called Fairyland for Austin’s New Year. Fairyland is mostly made of wonderful sparkly treasures that I find at ACR! I keep my eye out all year long for treasures to add to Fairyland! Additionally, I have always enjoyed thrift shopping and clothes swapping and sharing with friends. Seeing the potential in making and creating through reuse definitely spills into my art.

What compels you to donate to ACR?

It makes me happy to know that when I donate something that I am not using, someone else may be able to use it to create! It’s also like paying it forward. When I have a need for my projects, I find it at ACR! The creative community helps each other out! There’s also the added excitement of finding treasures at Austin Creative Reuse!

Do you have a favorite ACR find? What did you do with it?

The first year that I created Fairyland I found this pair of sparkly birds that I knew would be just perfect for the installation. They have been part of Fairyland ever since!

Where can we find out more about your art or projects?

My website is www.batikbydesign.com and there you will find examples of my art, previous projects I have worked on, as well as current projects, including the community mosaic project. To learn more about the mosaic project, you can also visit Ryah’s website www.ryahchristensen.com.

Thank you Melissa!

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